Breaking Down The Play In

by AAA Sports

Monday, Apr 15, 2024
This year’s NBA Play In tournament features plenty of star power – LeBron James, Steph Curry, MVP Joel Embiid, Zion Williamson. And the potential exists for four marquee franchises (Lakers, Warriors, Heat, 76ers) to make it into the playoff proper in what looks like a wide-open post-season for the Association. A look at the Play In:


Los Angeles Lakers (8) at New Orleans (7)
Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Pelicans -1

The only thing that prevented a Lakers-Warriors elimination game was Sacramento’s late-season slump – 6 losses in their final 10 games dropped them to the 9 seed in the West. LA has been forced to play LeBron James big minutes in the last week, and that will continue for one (or two) Play In games. But that’s a must if the Lakers are going to make another long playoff run. Had the Pelicans been able to take care of business against lowly San Antonio (111-109 loss) a few weeks ago, they would have been the 6 seed and avoided this play-in business. And getting spanked by the Lakers at home after four straight wins has to make them question things.

Golden State (10) at Sacramento (9)
Tuesday, 10 p.m. ET
Warriors -1.5

One last bite of the apple for the NBA’s most recent dynasty? It’s probably too much to expect Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to turn back the clock through the Play In and two or three 7-game series. But for one game, sure. Especially since Sacramento seems to be treading water at best. The teams have seen a lot of each other in the post-season. They met last year in the first round, with Golden State winning in seven. Sacramento, which seems to be on the receiving end of tough officials calls in big games, will no doubt be wary of bad whistles in this one.


Miami (8) at Philadelphia (7)
Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET
76ers -4.5

Catching a Sixers team with a returning (from injury) Joel Embiid was a nightmare for several Eastern Conference teams, and the Heat have drawn the short straw. Embiid will have had four days of rest when he attempts to wreak havoc on Miami’s front line. The winner gets the 7 seed and some rest before facing New York in the first round. Philly has plenty of momentum, winning 8 of its last 10, and Embiid has only 39 regular season games on his legs entering the post-season. Whether he has the wind to play 35 minutes a game in the playoffs is the question, as he has been gassed late in playoff games in the recent past. As for Miami, can the Heat make a second straight run to the Finals after embarrassing Boston in the Eastern finals a year ago? And will we see Playoff Jimmy Butler again, at age 34?

Atlanta (10) at Chicago (9)
Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET
Bulls -3.5

Chicago started the season 5-14 and was left for dead before rallying somewhat and settling into the No. 9 spot in the East, which is where they’ve been since mid-January. The most notable thing about the Bulls’ season was the injury to Zach Lavine, which made it impossible to trade him and his contract. Other than that, few highlights. This is Trae Young’s third straight trip to the Play In, and could be his second straight first-round battle against the Celtics. Last year Atlanta played Boston tough in a 6-game first-round series, which no doubt affected the Celtics when they lost to Miami in the EC finals. The loser of this game is no doubt headed for a rebuild.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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